A local woman is reinventing the wheel when it comes to sending care packages to soldiers serving overseas. Adopt a Soldier is giving people here a chance to make a difference in the lives of service members in Iraq. Jean van Velsor started the Adopt a Soldier program after meeting a young man leaving to serve in Iraq. "Here's this young man enjoying Wrightsville Beach and in just a few months from now look where he's going to be and you can't do anything about it, and I thought, 'Yes I can do something.'" So she called Wrightsville Beach's mayor. He agreed to let town hall to be the call center for the program. Essentially the town adopted members of the 82nd airborne division based at Fort Bragg. "It's not just for people at Wrightsville Beach, it's for people all over our area who want to do something want to get involved, want to make a difference, help the moral," Jean said. It's easy to help. Once you sign up for the program you'll send a package and a letter to your adopted soldier once a month. Nearly anything goes, from toiletries to magazines. "This package I'm sending I'm putting in some of those stuffed toys and crayons, magic markers, coloring books -- they're easy to send and it means so much to those children over there," Jean said. Not only does this program encourage the soldiers, you are also fulfilled by the letters they send back. One letter said, "Jean, I want to thank you for your kindness your package and words of encouragement are exactly what I do not hesitate to put myself in harms way. The men of Alfa Company are hardworking professionals as a volunteer fighting force we are proud to continue the conditions of a free life that America offers" To participate in the Adopt a Soldier program call the Wrightsville Beach town hall at (910) 256-7900. Town hall will take your contact information, and give it to Jean. She'll call you back and answer any questions you may have.
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